Audemus Spirits Tasting Session at Ronnie Scott’s
Another month, another invite to Ronnie Scott’s for an alcohol tasting session. Unlike last time, it was a lovely hot summer’s day in the greatest city in the world and this made the walk to Ronnie’s even more enjoyable as the city comes alive with people when we have one of the 5 hot sunny days this country receives!
Ronnie Scott’s is well located, not far from a number of London Underground tube stations and a short walk from Tottenham Court Road Tube station or Leicester Square Tube station. Today, as the weather was so fantastic, I walked rather than take public transport.
Now located on Frith Street, this world famous venue is split into two parts. Downstairs you have the main club which has hosted many famous musicians, and upstairs you have a smaller area but still just as cool. If you have missed out on tickets for the main show, then enjoying the musicians they have in the upstairs bar will certainly help ease the pain!
Audemus Spirits is a small house independent spirit producers. How small? Well it only 3 employees! The team are;
- Miko – who founded the company in 2013. He is the man behind the drinks as it was his vision to purchase a glass still to create his wonderful concoctions.
- Ian – The Numbers/Business guy. He joined a year later in 2014 to help raise Audemus Spirits up to a global brand rather than just a drink available in the Cognac region.
- Pip – The marketing/promotions ‘lady on the ground’. Based in London she joined the team in 2017 and would be hosting this evening.
The evening was to be an introduction to the Audemus Spirits range, with a side order of company history. Little did we know the company history was so suprising.
The Tasting Session
Arriving at Ronnie Scott’s we were directed upstairs to Ronnie’s Bar. The tables had all been set up with 6 places per a table. As we were there early, we had a choice of places to sit. We chose ‘our usual table’ as it seemed as good as table as any.
The tables included a number of flavoured tonic waters. These were Fever-Tree tonics, no cheap tonics were to be mixed with these drinks! I have never had flavoured tonic water before so tonight will be a night of tasting lots of new things.
First of the Day!
We took our seats and within moments a waiter came over to deliver the first drink of the day – a Tom Collins. A simple ‘cocktail’ that only has 1 alcoholic ingredient, gin, mixed with Lemon, sugar and soda water.
This Tom Collins was made with Audemus Spirit’s signature drink, the Pink Pepper Gin. It was great to start the evening with something so refreshing and enjoyable to drink.
The Tasting Session
The evening started with Pip giving us an introduction to Audemus. When Miko moved to Cognac he decided to buy a glass still. I thought he might use the theory ‘when in Rome’ to make Cognac but instead he chose to create a gin. While in Cognac he met Ian who was selling a soup in the market they were both trading at. An exchange of Gin for Soup (anyone else think Ian definitely got the better end of the deal?) lead to a friendship that grew to business partners.
Audemus Spirits – Pink Pepper Gin
Pip gave us more details about the Pink Pepper gin and how it is made. It contains 9 separate flavours that are mixed with a base spirit. The base spirit is a neutral grain wheat spirit that arrives at 96% abv – certainly enough to blow your socks off! Each bottle of Pink Pepper gin takes about 2 months to make and during this time the ABV drops to 40%, much more reasonable.
- The High Notes – Pink Pepper and Cardamon
- The Mid Notes – Juniper and ‘The Secret Ingredients’
- The Base Notes – Vanilla, tonka bean and honey
First we tried the gin straight. I’ve never had straight gin before so this was a little scary. After putting on my big-boy pants I took a sip. It was no-way near as violent gin flavour as I imagined I’d be getting. The high notes are what I was greeted with a small amount of the juniper and secret ingredients. We were then recommended to drop an ice cube in. Everyone has a bit of ice with their Gin and Tonic but I assumed this was to cool the drink down. What I wasn’t expecting was what happened next.
The flavour of the gin changed completely. Gone was the Pink Pepper and Cardamon and welcomed in their place was the vanilla, tonka bean and honey. The ice had managed to smooth the gin right out! What I now had was a very pleasant drink which could be sipped and enjoyed. I could even order this at a bar and know that I’d be getting something great that I will be enjoying.
Audemus Spirits – Umami
Next up for us to taste was Umami. This was created for a project on behalf of the ECC in Paris. It is made in a similar way to the Pink Pepper Gin however instead of 9 essences it has 1, Capers. As foodies will tell you though, Umami is one of the 5th basic tastes and is added to this ‘eau de vie’ in the same way that nitrogen is added to cream to make Chantilly cream. The flavours you get while drinking this are Capers, Umami and Dark Chocolate. Pip tells us it is great in a dirty martini and bloody Marys, but today we are trying it straight and again with ice.
Drinking it straight I did pick up on the capers, however my main taste was getting smokiness, like a whisky. Unfortunately ‘smokiness’ is one of my least favourite flavours as you can read on a previous tasting blog post of mine. The ice did little to help remove the smoke flavour so although this was a premium product that has a unique flavour combo, it was unfortunately lost on me.
Audemus Spirits – Covert
The final drink on offer today was their Covert. Seeing as Miko and Ian are based in Cognac, I was suprised that they weren’t offering a cognac drink and Covert was the answer to my query. The base of Covert is a 15 year old Cognac to which they add the Honey Distiller from the Pink Pepper Gin and some Fig leaf distillate. Apparently all the ‘figgy goodness’ from a fruit is in the leaf, so they pick the leaves, dry them, roast them and then use that to create the distillate.
Covert is named not for its ‘hidden’ loveliness, only that Miko wanted to make a green drink and it was made in COgnac. Co-Vert! Its clever! Like you and me! 😀 I really liked Covert, it had a smoothness that the other two drinks lacked, for me, anyway. The other interesting thing about it was that when you added the ice it didn’t change its flavour profile at all. I’ll happy drink that a plenty and thats probably because of the cognac base it uses.
The Final Thought
Another great night out at Ronnie Scotts. It was a very different evening to the last tasting I attended but enjoyable all the same. This one had a slightly less hectic feel to and and I also didn’t drink nearly a pint of spirits, so my liver loved me as well! Pip did an excellent job in promoting the brand, answering questions and keeping everyone topped up. Although she hasn’t been with the company long, you could tell she had a passion for it.
I would say it was a night of two halves for me.
Being sent home is Umami – It really isn’t a drink I enjoyed but my friend thought it was the best of the night. I guess thats the Umami flavour, its not for everyone but the people it is for will LOVE it.
Making it through to the judges houses is Pink Pepper Gin. A great flavoured drink and I will be definitely be buying a bottle of this as a present for my brother. He loves a bit of gin and I thinkhe will really enjoy it.
The X-Factor winner for me though, is Covert. I will be buying a bottle of this for me and not even sharing it!
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